The Supreme Court yesterday removed a possible barrier to legally uncomplicated extradition of prisoners from one state to another.
Interrupting an announced month-long recess a week after it began, seven of the nine justices returned to the bench for a few minutes to hand down decisions in the extradition case and in an unrelated case involving interest charges on national-bank credit charges. (Article, Page C13.)
The extradition case involved the arrest in Michigan three years ago of Harold W. Doran on a charge of receiving and concealing stolen property-a truck he had driven from Arizona. In the latter state, a justice of the peace then issued an arrest warrant that stated she had found "reasonable cause" to believe Doran had committed either theft or theft by embezzlement.
After Michigan authorities reported the arrest, Arizona's governor issued a requisition for extradition. Michigan's governor issued the necessary warrant and ordered Doran extradited.
But the Michigan Supreme Court ordered Doran released on the ground that "probable cause"-required by the Fourth Amendment to the federal Constitution for charging a person with a crime-hadn't been shown.
Neither the complaint that generated the Arizona charge, the affidavits in support of the Arizona arrest warrent, nor the recitals of the justice of the peace set out sufficient facts to demonstrate probable cause, the Michigan court held.
The U.S. Supreme Court unanimously reversed. The Michigan courts were not empowered to review the finding of probable cause made by the Arizona justice of the peace, Chief Justice Warren E. Burger wrote in an opinion relying on the Constitution's "clear and explicit" extradition clause.
The clause says that a fugitive from justice who is found in another state "shall on demand of the executive authority of the state from which he fled, be delivered up, to be removed to the state having jurisdiction of the crime."
Intersate extradition "was intended to be a summary and mandatory executive proceeding," Burger wrote. "We hold that once the governor of the asylum state has acted on a requisition for extradition based on the demanding state's judicial determination that probable cause existed, no further judicial inquiry may be had on that issue in the asylum stat."
Three justices agreed only with the result, saying that the Arizona papers were "facially sufficient." But the three-Justice Harry A. Blackmum, joined by Justices William J. Brennan Jr. and Thurgood Marshall-said that unlike their colleagues, they were unwilling "to bypass so readily, and almost to ignore, the presence and significance of the Fourth Amendment in the extradition process."
Blackmun charged that the Burger opinion fails to clarify the amendment's requirements in interstate extradition even though that was the issue the court had agreed to decide, and contains "troublesome" and "inconsistent" implications.